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Peter Pan Lyric Theatre

A time for great rejoicing?

By Squinter

GENERAL hilarity erupts in West Belfast, firstly at news that Rangers had applied to go into administration; secondly, at news that they had indeed gone into administration; and thirdly, that the inevitable 10-point docking had taken place.

Hardly surprising, given the huge popularity of the Bhoys in these quarters –  the largest Celtic supporting population outside the city of Glasgow, it’s believed.

Now when it comes to giving Rangers stick, Squinter has never been a shrinking violet – the trashing of Manchester by Rangers’ fans before the 2008 Uefa cup final being a good example. But he must admit he finds it hard to get the flag and trumpet out at the prospect of people losing their jobs and their livelihoods – which is what will inevitably happen, given the immense scale of the financial meltdown at Ibrox.

There’s no doubt that Rangers is a club with deep-rooted problems which go far beyond the fiscal mess that’s currently threatening its future. One Scottish journalist – a former Rangers supporter – said after the Manchester episode that Rangers is “a club with poison at its core”, and while we’ve all seen evidence of what he’s talking about in the neanderthal and sectarian behaviour of large sections of the club’s support, both suited and shell-suited, no-one’s suggesting that every pen-pusher, every tea-maker, every typist and every odd-job-man at Rangers is a slavering bigot. And yet jobs will go thanks to the shambolic way that Rangers has been run in recent years – and that’s no cause for celebration.

Neither is there cause to rejoice in the fact that the biggest game in the SPL calendar for Celtic, should Rangers go gurgling down the plughole, will be against Hearts. The Edinburgh side – dubbed ‘Mini-Rangers’ for the uber-loyal nature of their support – will provide only a frisson of the passion and excitement generated by the Glasgow derby. The other Edinburgh side, Hibs, are roughly as big as Hearts, but Celtic fans, if they’re honest, don’t much mind losing to the other boys in green; and then there’s Aberdeen, whose fans are renowned for hating Rangers almost as much as Celtic fans – so not much to get excited about there, then.

The truth is that the SPL would be a much duller place for Celtic fans without Rangers, despite – or perhaps because of – their snarling no-one-likes-us-we-don’t-care demeanour. Squinter’s been to many of the great stadia of Europe, but there’s nowhere that compares to Celtic Park five minutes before kick-off on derby day.

Who wants to lose that?

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